Police are appealing for information after the theft of gates from a field resulted in four horses being killed in a pile-up on the A1.
Three horses were killed outright and another had to be put down as a result of its injuries.
Five vehicles were involved in the smash on the southbound carriageway near Ferrybridge Services in West Yorkshire, in the early hours of yesterday (Sunday 20 September).
No people were seriously injured.
The animals were among 11 horses that had escaped from a field two miles from the crash site after thieves stole two gates on Saturday.
The other horses — all of which belonged to Timbertops Equestrian Centre, at Wentbridge, North Yorkshire — had been rounded up.
Police are appealing for anyone who saw people acting suspiciously in the area or knows anything about the theft to contact them.
PC Lee Brook of Selby Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “The theft of these gates has resulted in a serious collision which tragically ended with the loss of four animals.
“Thankfully none of the occupants of the vehicles was injured, but they were very shaken up. The potential consequences of the thieves’ actions don’t bear thinking about.
“I am appealing to anyone who saw anything suspicious on Saturday evening or Sunday morning or who knows anything about the thefts to contact police.
“I also appeal to people at local auction marts or agricultural sales to be on their guard against purchasing metal gates and contact police if they have any suspicions about where they have come from.
“The monetary value of these gates is very little compared to the devastation caused on Sunday morning and we are determined to find out who was responsible for the theft.”
Anyone who has any information, should contact York CID on 0845 60 60 247 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.